Showing posts from May, 2012

Interesting Fact - Class System

According to a government report, Fair Access to Professional Careers, 41% of law undergraduates, 57% of medical students and 49% of journalism students in Britain come from the UK's 'highest socio-economic groups’.
(The independent reviewer on social mobility (yes we really do have one), Alan Milburn pointed out that some middle-class graduates were also locked out of the job market and internships because their families did not have - the right connections.

Birds of a feather stick together Mr Milburn.)


Interesting Fact - Olympics

If you want to buy a beer at the Olympics it will cost the equivalent of £7.23.

(A 330ml bottle of Heineken lager at the Games will cost £4.20, which is the equivalent of £7.23 for a pint. This is more than double the national average price of £3.17. And it doesn't stop there;  bars at the official Games venues will also charge £4.80 for a small glass of 'London 2012' red wine, £2.30 for a 500ml bottle of Coca-Cola and £2 for a cup of tea! If you're feeling peckish, you will pay a whacking £2.10 for a toasted teacake, and a portion of cod and chips will set you back at least £8! The good news is you can take your own refreshments (in a soft bag), but you're not allowed to take your own beer or any other alcohol.  Kerching!
I'm glad I'll be at home watching it on the tele with a fridge full of beer, a cellar full of wine, and I'm sure I can rustle up a fish finger sandwich.)

Interesting Words - Swearing

A study at Brigham Young University found that popular novels aimed at teenagers contain, on average, 38 swear words per novel.

(Professor Sarah Coyne, of Brigham Young University in America, found that 88 per cent of all the books on the adolescent best-seller list contained at least one swear word, she also noticed that the most popular characters were the most foul-mouthed.)

Interesting Fact - Music

According to figures from the British Phonographic Industry, digital music sales now exceed sales of CDs and records.

(Digital sales have risen to £86.5 million/year, whilst revenue from physical formats, such as CD and vinyl, slumped by 15%, and now represents just £69.3 million.

BTW - for the younger generation, CDs are small, round, flat shiny things that play music, and records (aka vinyl) are large, round, flat, black things that play music too.)

Interesting Fact - Health

According to a review published in the British Medical Journal, adding 17.5% VAT to unhealthy foods in Britain could cut up to 2,700 heart disease deaths a year.

(One US study showed a 35% increase in the price of sugar sweetened drinks – working out at 28p per drink – in a canteen led to a 26 per cent decline in sales.

Dr Oliver Mytton and colleagues at Oxford University said so called fat taxes would need to be at least 20 per cent to have a meaningful effect on population health.

In the past year, Denmark has introduced a fat tax, Hungary a junk food tax and France a tax on sweetened drinks. Other countries,  notably Ireland, are also considering such taxes.

I want to know why they're not considering a champagne tax or caviar tax.)


Interesting Fact - Law

In the UK it is illegal for a dog to poo in your garden, but not a cat.

(That said, public fouling is only an offence when it is not immediately cleaned up. UK dog owners who fail to scoop their dog's poop can be slapped with a £1,000 fine under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005.  But cats can pretty much do what they want, when they want; hence their expression of superiority.)

Interesting Fact - World Record

The Queen may have shaken half a million hands, but there are other people who have achieved handshake greatness:-

(In Atlantic City, New Jersey Mayor Joseph Lazarow was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records for a July 1977 publicity stunt, in which he shook more than 11,000 hands in a single day, breaking the record previously held by President Theodore Roosevelt, who had set the record with 8,513 handshakes at a White House reception on 1 January 1907.

On 21 September 2009, Jack Tsonis and Lindsay Morrison broke the Guinness World Record for the world's longest handshake, shaking hands for 12 hours, 34 minutes and 56 seconds. This record was broken less than a month later in Claremont, California, when John-Clark Levin and George Posner shook hands for 15 hours, 15 minutes, and 15 seconds. The next month, on 21 November, Matthew Rosen and Joe Ackerman surpassed this feat, with a new world record time of 15 hours, 30 minutes and 45 seconds.
At 8pm EST on Friday 14 Janua…

Interesting Fact - The handshake

The handshake is thought to have been introduced to the UK by Sir Walter Raleigh in British Court during the late 16th century.

(The handshake is thought by some to have originated as a gesture of peace by demonstrating that the hand holds no weapon. There are various customs surrounding handshakes, both generically and specific to certain cultures:-

The handshake is commonly used when meeting, greeting, parting, offering congratulations, expressing gratitude, or completing an agreement. In sports or other competitive activities, it is also done as a sign of good sportsmanship. Its purpose is to convey trust, balance, and equality.

In Anglophone countries, in business situations. In casual non-business situations, men are more likely to shake hands than women.In Belgium, handshakes are done more often, especially on meetings.In Switzerland, it may be expected to shake the women's hands first.Austrians shake hands when meeting, often including with children.In some Muslim countrie…

Interesting People - The Queen

According to research commissioned by soap firm Radox, the Queen has shaken half a million hands.

(The average number of hands your typical Brit will shake is 670 for men and 304 for women, but to be honest, since I moved to Germany I've probably shaken as many hands as the Queen. They do like a good handshake here.)

Interesting Fact - Etiquette

Brits are waving goodbye to the handshake.

(The good old handshake is becoming a thing of the past in the UK, as it is now considered 'outdated' and even 'unhygienic'.

According to a study commissioned by soap firm Radox, one in five of us feel shaking hands is ‘too formal’, and 42% said they would only do it in a business context. Almost 50% of us are using alternative ways to greet each other with 16% prefering a continental-style peck on the cheek and nearly a third opting for a hug.)
PS - We have been discussing this on the forum since 2006.


Interesting Fact - Money

Parents in the UK now spend around a quarter of their annual income on childcare for under-fives.

(This makes the UK amongst the most expensive in the world', only parents in Switzerland fork out more. Let's face it, having children is expensive.)

Interesting Fact - Money

Parents in the UK pay around £200 a week for child-care, (£260 in London).

Interesting Fact - Money

According to a report by the liberal think-tank CentreForum, the UKGovernment invests around £7bn a year on childcare support.

(This is the fifth highest spending rate in the developed world, and only the Nordic countries spend more. Funding is provided to very low income families and covers most of their childcare costs.  The crazy thing is that these low income families need help because even though they work, they don't earn enough to be able to pay for the childcare that allows them to work, so the tax payer is really subsidising low wages.  How about employers providing childcare for employees?)

Interesting Place - Australia

It is estimated there are 35 "outlaw" motorcycle groups in Australia.

(Together they have  3,500 "patched members" (official members). Since the 1980s there have been about 100 biker killings across the country and 1,000 shootings.   Because of the escalating violence, it is illegal to wear certain biker "patches" or insignia in Kings Cross, Sydney. The reason for the escalating violence?  Drugs.  So, if you supply, grow, trade in, take or make money from narcotics, you are part of the problem,)

Interesting People - Ram Singh Chauhan

Ram Singh Chauhan is the proud owner of the world's longest moustache.

(His tache is 4.29m (14ft) long, and he told reporters that he spends an hour every day cleaning and combing it,.  He also oils it regularly and washes it every 10 days.  And men say women are vain!)

Interesting People - Tao Porchon-Lynch

Tao Porchon-Lynch has been named the world's oldest yoga teacher.

(She has been teaching yoga for 61 years, and still does.  I wonder if I will ever become the world's oldest English teacher?

Interesting Fact - Fathers

According to statistics from the Department of Trade and Industry, over 75% of UK men fail to take up paternity leave after the birth of a child.

(194,000 men took paternity leave in 2010 compared with 602,000 women, who naturally took maternity leave. Seemingly it's the fear factor that prevents many men from taking the time off, they are more scared of their boss than their wife.)

Interesting Place - Fort Lee - New Jersey

People in Fort Lee who are caught texting on their mobile phones while walking face being fined  $85 (£53).

(In the last month-and-a-half, at least 117 tickets have been issued for jaywalking.  That's $9,945.00.  Nice work if you can get it.)

Interesting Fact - Surfing

No, not surfing the internet, proper surfing.

The Guinness World Records organisation has awarded professional surfer Garrett McNamara from Hawaiia the world record record for the biggest wave ridden.

(Back in November Mr McNamara rode a 78ft wave off Portugal. The wave formed above an undersea canyon known as one of the biggest wave-generators in the world. That seems like a reason to avoid the area, but there's no accounting for surf mentality.)

Interesting Word - Leguminophobia.

Leguminophobia is the fear of baked beans.

(Now this might be a fear of beans in general, so perhaps baked beans should be lumped under flatuphobia, a fear of passing wind.  Although if you read the previous post, you will see that the baked bean is innocent.)

Interesting Food - Beans

In a report titled Perceptions of Flatulence From Bean Consumption Among Adults in 3 Feeding Studies, people's concerns about excessive flatulence from eating beans may be exaggerated.

(Donna Winham, of Arizona State University, and Andrea Hutchins, of the University of Colorado, got volunteers to eat half a cup of beans a day for several weeks. In the first week, fewer than half of the beanies reported an increase in flatulence, and over 70% of the participants who had experienced flatulence initially felt that it dissipated by the second or third week of bean consumption.

This flies in the face of advice given by Geoffrey Wynne-Jones of Waikato Hospital in Hamilton, New Zealand, In 1975 he published a treatise in The Lancet, with the alarming title, Flatus Retention is the Major Factor in Diverticular Disease.   Dr Wynne-Jones said: "Diverticular disease is confined to modern urban communities: flatus retention in a rural, primitive society would be pointless … [The di…

Interesting Fact - Water

The UK is undergoing its worst drought since 1976.

(Ridiculously, every day, 3.4bn litres of water leaks from the system. This is almost a quarter of the entire supply. And to add insult to injury, the water companies (who make huge profits every year) have been told they don't need to reduce this until 2015.

Since the privatisation of the water industry in 1989, leakage reduction targets were set for the 21 water companies, but leaks have only been reduced across England and Wales by 5% over the past 13 years.

Why? Well probably because, of the £2bn in pre-tax profits from 2010 - 2011, they paid out £1.5bn in dividends to shareholders. Money that could have been spent on preserving one of our most precious resources. So, never mind Wiki leaks, what about Water leaks?)

Interesting Place - The UK

There are more than 210,000 miles of water pipes that serve 23m properties across England and Wales.

(This is a length equivalent to eight times the circumference of the Earth. According to OFWAT (the economic regulator of water and sewer companies in England and Wales) it would cost £100bn to replace them all.)

Interesting People - Jenson Bottom

No, it's not a typo, I mean Jenson Bottom (well that's her nickname). Her real name is Jolene Van Vugt and she has just set a new land speed record – on a motorised toilet.

(The 31-year-old former motocross champion was performing at performing at the Nitro Circus stunt show, and she managed to speed along at 46mph – 4mph faster than the previous Guinness world record.
It's people like her who make me think there's hope for us yet:-

Interesting Fact - Money

According to research by the Co-operative Bank, about 70 per cent of adults in the UK have debt problems.

(It's bad enough having "money worries", but according to the same research, one in 20 of them turn to payday lenders. These organisations offer extortionate short-term, loans secured against a customer's next pay cheque, where interest rates can be as high as 2,000% EAR (effective APR).

Of course payday lenders defend themselves; they do not compare their interest rates to those of mainstream lenders. Instead, they compare their fees to the overdraft, late payment, and penalty fees that will be incurred if the customer is unable to secure any credit whatsoever. But if you do the sums, it's easy to see them for what they are - usurers.

 Due to the extremely short-term nature of payday loans, the difference between nominal APR and effective APR (EAR) can be substantial, because EAR takes compounding into account. For a £15 charge on a £100 2-week payday lo…

Interesting Fact - Art

The iconic artwork The Scream, created by Norwegian expressionist artist Edvard Munch, has sold for just under $120m (£74m).

(This makes it the most expensive art work ever sold at auction, the previous record was for Picasso's Nude, Green Leaves, and Bust, which sold for $106.5m in 2010.

There are actually 4 versions of this pastel (yes it's no oil painting), but this is the only one owned privately, and it bears a poem written by the artist on the frame. The poem reads:

"I was walking along a path with two friends - the sun was setting - suddenly the sky turned blood red - I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence - there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city.

"My friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety - and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature."
If anyone had been nearby when I heard how much this piece of paper had sold for, they would have heard a scream passing through my house.)

Interesting Fact - Computers

Windows 7 has been banned in Germany!
(Motorola has been granted an injunction against the distribution of key Microsoft products in Germany. The sales ban covers the Xbox 360 games console, Windows 7 system software, Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player, claiming that Microsoft has infringed two patents necessary to offer H.264 video coding and playback. .
So as the patent wars rage on, I write this post on my now illegal operating system, waiting for a knock at the door as they come to confiscate my computer.)

Interesting Place - Honduras

Honduras has the world's highest murder rate.
(The National Commission for Human Rights has calculated that there is a violent death every 74 minutes in this small nation of about eight million people, and in 2011 they recorded the highest murder rate in the world, with 86 people killed for every 100,000 inhabitants. In  Mexico the rate is 18, in the UK it is just over 1.

What fuels the violence in Honduras, and in Mexico? Illegal drugs. So, if you take / deal / transport or make money from this stuff, you are part of the problem.)